SINGAPORE: Temperature screening at Changi Airport will be extended to all travellers arriving from China, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Monday (Jan 20), as news broke that a new virus originating from Wuhan has spread to other Chinese cities.
In addition, individuals with pneumonia who travelled to Wuhan within 14 days before the onset of symptoms will be isolated in hospital.
The stepped-up precautionary measures are in response to a rise in cases of the novel coronavirus pneumonia and an anticipated spike in travel volume in the lead up to the Chinese New Year holidays, MOH said.
Six deaths have been reported and around 170 are being treated in hospital in Wuhan, where the virus originated. Cases have also been reported in other Chinese cities, including Beijing.
South Korea on Monday reported its first case - a 35-year-old woman who flew in from Wuhan. Thailand and Japan have previously confirmed a total of three cases.
The expanded measures come in addition to other precautionary measures put in place by MOH since the start of January, with temperature screening already implemented from the evening of Jan 3 for inbound travellers arriving on flights from Wuhan.
Suspect cases have been referred to hospitals for further assessment, and Health Advisory Posters have also been put up within Changi Airport to advise all travellers on the precautionary measures to take when travelling to or arriving from Wuhan.
SIX TESTED NEGATIVE
Since the start of the year, seven people in Singapore have been warded and tested after they were found to have pneumonia and had travelled to Wuhan.
Six of those cases tested negative for coronavirus and are not linked to the cluster in Wuhan, MOH said.
As of 10am on Monday, the ministry was notified of the latest case, which involves a 44-year-old Singapore resident with pneumonia and travel history to Wuhan.
“She has been admitted for further assessment and treatment, and isolated as a precautionary measure. Her condition is stable,” added MOH.
The woman had not visited the Huanan seafood wholesale market in Wuhan that is associated with the pneumonia cluster.
"To date, there have been no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus reported in Singapore. However, given that Singapore is a travel hub, we expect to see more suspect cases, and cannot rule out the possibility of imported cases," said MOH.
"Once a case is confirmed, contact tracing will be initiated, and we will implement strict isolation, quarantine, and infection control and prevention measures to prevent further transmission."
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MOH has also issued a reminder on Jan 20 to hospitals and General Practitioners to be vigilant for cases with pneumonia who have recently travelled to Wuhan.
Members of the public are advised to be vigilant and to adopt good personal hygiene practices, and all travellers to Wuhan should monitor their health closely and seek medical attention promptly if they feel unwell, and also inform their doctor of their travel history.
Travellers and members of the public should adopt the following precautions at all times:
- Avoid contact with live animals including poultry and birds, and consumption of raw and undercooked meats
- Avoid close contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness
- Observe good personal hygiene
- Practise frequent hand washing with soap (e.g. before handling food or eating, after going to toilet, or when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing)
- Wear a mask if you have respiratory symptoms such as a cough or runny nose
- Cover your mouth with a tissue paper when coughing or sneezing, and dispose the soiled tissue paper in the rubbish bin immediately; and
- Seek medical attention promptly if you are feeling unwell.
The Singapore Embassy in Beijing also shared these guidelines on its Facebook page, aimed at Singaporeans residing in China. It advised these residents to monitor local media, as well as the PRC National Health Commission and World Health Organization websites for updates on the situation.
Senior Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min in a Facebook post similarly urged travellers to Wuhan to take precautions.
"The Ministry of Health, Singapore is concerned about the increase in cases of novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan and exported cases to other Chinese cities and countries," wrote Mr Lam.
"We are closely monitoring the situation," he added.